Money and conference realignment are once again helping to change the college athletics landscape. That’s definitely the case with the Big 10 making Southern California and UCLA conference members in 2024.
It seems as if every school and conference is in an arms race, and that starts with conferences gobbling up schools from competing conferences. The Big XII could be next to make a move.
Here are talking points regarding three of the rumored schools that could join the Big XII and the advantages of bringing them into the league from a football and basketball perspective.
In football, Arizona needs to improve. There’s potential in Tucson, but it has rarely been a top-notch program outside of a short run in the early-to-mid 1990s and the 2012-2014 stretch that saw 26 victories. It’s still a well known and recognizable school. Adding Arizona’s football program would help expand the Big XII’s footprint into the state of Arizona and even the cable markets of California. Money talks, as noted above.
As for basketball, this is a program that is consistently one of the better programs in the country, and definitely one of the best basketball programs out West. Playing at the McKale Memorial Center is a difficult task for any visiting team.
Just adding Arizona to the already intriguing upper echelon programs like Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia and Oklahoma State can make the Big XII arguably the best basketball conference in the country.
This is a football program that has vast potential. Located in Tempe on the edge of Phoenix, this is a direct hit for an additional market to add to the Big XII map. It’s also a potential sleeping giant if the right buttons are pushed from an administrative standpoint.
Basketball is much the same. The Sun Devils are currently under the direction of Bobby Hurley, the former star point guard at Duke that won national championships in 1991 and 1992. While they have not yet reached expectations, it’s not hard to attract recruits to go to school and live in Phoenix. That’s also a destination city that other Big XII fan bases would enjoy.
After reaching the Rose Bowl this past year, it once again solidifies that the Utes have a rock solid program and a coaching staff that knows what it’s doing. Located in Salt Lake City, Head Coach Kyle Whittingham has helped build a program with prospects from across the West Coast, as well as Texas and Florida. There’s also the natural connection to Arizona and Arizona State, as they are all currently inside the Pac 12 together.
While Utah’s current basketball program needs to improve its current situation, it did reach the 2015 NCAA Sweet 16. Utah lost to Kentucky in the 1998 NCAA Finals as well.
Based on what just happened with Southern California and UCLA, that might have just been the beginning of the conference realignment. The Big XII could be next to strike a deal. Arizona, Arizona State and Utah are three options that do in fact make sense for the Big XII to at least explore.